The Kansas City Chiefs’ players and coaches say that while they are diligently preparing for their regular-season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, their hearts and minds are with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
The Pittsburgh native remains in critical condition after suffering a medical emergency during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs canceled Tuesday’s media availability “out of respect for Hamlin and the Buffalo Bills organization.”
“That was really scary,” safety Juan Thornhill said of the incident on Wednesday. “Knowing that we play the same exact sport, a contact sport, it’s scary because it can affect us.”
Thornhill said he was watching the game when it happened.
“It definitely touched me when I was watching it,” he said, “and I was praying for him all night.”
I know y’all love football but how do you continue playing this game?— The_Juan_And_Only (@Juan_Thornhill) January 3, 2023
Head coach Andy Reid said that players and staff led a prayer for Hamlin’s health on Tuesday — and that the team is encouraging players who are still processing the event to seek team-provided mental health services.
“Mental health is everything,” Thornhill said. “You have to always check up on your brothers because it can be a struggle. [It] can affect someone else differently than others.”
While Thornhill believes some teammates and players around the league could be “a little tentative” at first, he doesn’t plan on changing his own playing style.
“This is a game that we play,” noted the safety. “We know what we sign up for. Guys go out there and we’re physical every single day.”
In the meantime, the Raiders game is the next order of business for Thornhill and his teammates. Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, it will be the first NFL game to be played since Monday night’s tragedy.
“All I can do right now is just pray for Damar and hope that he gets better,” said Thornhill. “And hope that it doesn’t happen anymore this season.”